New irrigation technologies give more options for improved watering systems

CropLogic is a New Zealand-based company with international offices in Australia and the U.S. The company chose to launch an office at the College of Southern Idaho last year, however, because it believes the Idaho potato industry would particularly benefit from its technologies.

CropLogic’s soil moisture probe — or capacitance probe — uses an electrical current to measure soil moisture.

“Any time you can get information, that helps you raise a better crop,”
CropLogic Western Territories Manager Scott Barclay  said. “Especially with potatoes, quality is huge.”

The voltage is low enough it doesn’t hurt the crops, and sensors reaching 4 inches deep also measure soil temperature. The probes range from 2 to 6 feet long. They are designed to help farmers improve their irrigation practices by calculating evapotranspiration — water loss from the plant due to heat and the plant using it — Barclay said.

The complicated nature of the soil moisture probes over the past few decades made farmers less inclined to adopt them. Farmers instead opted to use the “hand-feel” method of digging up dirt, clumping and smearing it on one’s hands to determine moisture content. That’s in part because the older probes had to be hooked up to a computer to download readings.

Today, the company’s probes send data once per hour to a satellite, and farmers can access that data from the cloud. Each probe uses weather information from other sources to help make its calculations.

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